Gov. Diri, labour union on same page in Bayelsa State

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By Kola Oredipe

“For Bayelsa workers, this May Day is very special as the entire workers are pleased with the Prosperity Administration of Governor Douye Diri, which since inception has continued to pay salaries and pensions to workers and retirees while also embarking on very visible life transforming projects in the State.

That is a statement of fact freely made by the leadership of both the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in their joint address at this year’s May Day celebration in Yenagoa. In Bayelsa, the struggle and demands for better welfare for workers have enjoyed a good measure from incumbent Governor, Senator Douye Diri. A man who has fostered true and great relationship with the workers in just 14 months. The workers are astonishingly gladdened that there is such a governor who appreciates that the labour union should legally make demands for better working conditions.

After all, unions and associations exist primarily for the welfare of members and the labour union’s solidarity song is living that purpose by constantly and consciously raising the awareness among the workers. The prosperity government is clearly in solidarity with the workers and this much the State NLC Chairman, Comrade John Bipre-Ndiomu, attested to in the labour address he read out on Saturday.

If the American writer and labour activist, Ralph Chaplin, who authored the popular trade union anthem, “solidarity forever” were to be alive and anywhere close to Bayelsa State today, he would be happy with giants steps taken thus far by the present administration to appreciate the industry, dedication and commitment of workers to their jobs and that it is exemplary that a political leader could deeply show empathy with workers on their welfare needs. His principles are in tune with the biblical axiom that the labourers indeed are deserving of their wages.

Gov. Diri, had further endeared himself to the workers when he publicly declared that regular payment of salaries should not be seen as an achievement by government rather ‘it is my responsibility to pay workers under our employment. It is their legitimate earning.”

From the stanza two of the solidarity song, one could conveniently say the workers in Bayelsa State are no outcast in the development of their own state and are certainly not starving because there is prosperity in the land with regular payment of salaries and entitlements.

In this state, the long list of demands have met with a listening Governor, who was a public servant like them as a secondary teacher and whose father, a retired headmaster is a pensioner. Governor Diri, indeed knows where it pinches and has placed workers welfare in the first line charge of his administration. The labour leaders confessed to this position when they described the governor as a “labour friendly-Governor”, who has brought industrial harmony in the state since he came on board on 14th February, 2020.

“We acknowledge and appreciate the State Government for always rising to the occasion whenever issues affecting workers are brought to the knowledge of His Excellency and the Deputy Governor. This has been demonstrated by the various committees set up by government to address the issues and the constant dialogue with labour leaders that has obviously led to a better synergy and industrial harmony in Bayelsa State”, Ndiomu stated.

The labour leader excitedly told the governor during the May Day celebration of how happy the pensioners in the state are for the monthly release of funds to clear outstanding gratuities and death benefits. “During the march past, you saw that the pensioners are happy. You have brought life back to them. You restored their hope with the payment of backlog of gratuities.” This is manifestation of prosperity in the lives of the senior citizens.

Ndiomu extended the appreciation of workers to the government for the implementation of the N30,000.00 minimum wage and further thanked the prosperity government for the approval of N252 million as intervention fund to settle promotion arrears of primary school teachers and health workers in different Local Government Areas.

This government has shown great love and good deeds to workers ensuring regular payment of salaries, payment of outstanding salary arrears, promotion arrears and has commenced a process of building housing units for more civil servants. A new pension scheme in the mould of the Contributory Pension Scheme by the Federal Government is being worked out for effective pension administration in the state.

Gov. Diri has over the time earned the trust of the workers for his consistent energy and cherished relationship. The famous quote by Canadian author, William Paul Young, “Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved” aptly captures the confidence, honesty and integrity that have brought the present administration and labour union on the same page in the general interest of workers in the state.

Leading a government that appreciate capacity building, Gov. Diri assured workers that the training and retraining of workers would be given priority to boost productivity.

The Governor has also challenged the workers to join hands with him in the development of the state. “I urge workers in Bayelsa to remain resilient, hopeful, and focused as we upscale our determination and resolve to build the state we all want. So much lies ahead that should make us optimistic rather than pessimistic. The wealth of the state is inextricably tied to the health of our workers, so the government will continue to rank the welfare and happiness of our cherished workers at the zenith of its policies and programmes”, Diri assured.

An unapologetic comrade and defender of the common man, Diri, has always been in solidarity with the Bayelsa workers. No wonder the existing relationship between the prosperity government and labour union has remained firm and strong putting smiles on the faces of different category of workers and the pensioners. Expectedly and interestingly, the workers have demonstrated faith in the prosperity administration and are not at a loss to the fact that Governor Douye Diri means well for them and the people of the state.

Oredipe, is Director, New Media to Bayelsa State Governor.

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